Sevens trial draws players from around NZ

Tuesday September 19, 2017 Written by Published in Rugby Union
The Cook Islanders who competed in Auckland for a place in the national sevens team. 17091808 PHOTO: Supplied The Cook Islanders who competed in Auckland for a place in the national sevens team. 17091808 PHOTO: Supplied

Over the weekend the Cook Islands Rugby New Zealand (CIRNZ) Union hosted an open trial for the rugby sevens team in Otara, Auckland.


Over 20 players came from around the country, from Waikato to Wellington, to take part in the trial.

National rugby manager Simon Iopu was present at the game, along with U20s National 15s coach Pops Arona and U15’s National 7s coach Robert AtaToa.

“The trial was an opportunity for me to identify players from outside of the Cook Islands for the national 7’s programme,” Iopu said.

“It’s part of the player ID process we use every year with mixed results. However, the turnout this year was the most we’ve ever had, which was really pleasing.

“Due to time limitations we went straight into playing opposed 7s games against the CIRNZ 7s squad, who are currently preparing for their trip to the Raro 7’s tournament in November.”

Those who were former or current Cook Islands squad members shone through early on with their experience, making quick work of their opposition as they scored a number of tries.

However, as the game wore on a number of the younger squad members began to take the game by the scruff of the neck, breaking the line at will and scoring some great tries through creative passes.

“Now that the trial is over, I will go through the videos of each game, create a stats profile on each player, analyse player suitability to the national game plan and deliver that to Vase (Samania, the national sevens coach) who will make the call on selections for the final train on squad,” Iopu said.

“We are hoping to name the team by the end of the week. Players are reminded that if they are named in the squad that the hard begins from that moment on.

“We have strict protocols around reporting for trainings on Rarotonga and those living overseas are required to submit all videos and trainings on time every time or also risk being expelled from the programme after three occasions.”

For those who do make the side, Iopu warns of intense and difficult training sessions, as both he and Samania are believers in the need to be fit to compete at the top level.

“We are hell-bent on getting players to supreme fitness levels required to compete at international level.

“This is all in preparation for the upcoming Oceania Rugby 7’s qualifiers coming up in November in Fiji.

“This is, along with the national womens 7’s team, an opportunity for us to qualify for the Rugby 7’s World Cup and the Commonwealth games in 2018, as well as the usual World 7’s circuit tournaments in the Waikato, Sydney and Hong Kong.

“I would like to thank CIRNZ – Tauraki Chairman, Temu Faireka, Rangi Aitu, Charlie Borrel, Clerk Faireka, Ops Toa and all supporting staff for hosting us for the trial and doing such an outstanding job in everything for Cook Islands rugby.”

CIRNZ have also agreed to hold the trial in Auckland every year at around this time.

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